Featured Review: These Feathered Flames (Alexandra Overy)
About This Book:
When twin heirs are born in Tourin, their fates are decided at a young age. While Izaveta remained at court to learn the skills she’d need as the future queen, Asya was taken away to train with her aunt, the mysterious Firebird, who ensured magic remained balanced in the realm.
But before Asya’s training is completed, the ancient power blooms inside her, which can mean only one thing: the queen is dead, and a new ruler must be crowned.
As the princesses come to understand everything their roles entail, they’ll discover who they can trust, who they can love—and who killed their mother.
*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*
THESE FEATHERED FLAMES is an enchanting YA fantasy about sisterhood, power, and destiny. When twins are born in the royal line, one is destined to become the immortal firebird and the other queen. Although not born every generation, Asya and Izaveta are currently being trained in their destined roles, Asya to be the Firebird and Izaveta to be queen.
Asya is scared of who she will become - the Firebird is a magical creature that ensures the cost of magic is paid. When someone casts a spell, they should give something to the spell. If their price is not high enough, the Firebird is called and takes something from them to maintain the balance. The price can be a limb or even their life.
Izaveta is being trained in manipulation and power by their mother, who has mastered the indifference and cruelty needed to rule the country. She does not recognize who she used to be when she grew up with her twin sister. Her life is a game of people.
When the Queen (their mother) dies, the twins must come into their destined roles, a dangerous process when the country is seemingly conspiring against them to destroy the Firebird and the Queen.
What I loved: This was an absolutely captivating and atmospheric read. The world-building of this unique queendom and the parts the two sisters play was really intriguing. It was easy to get caught up in each of their roles and lives. The book is told from the perspectives of both twins, and I appreciated the ability to get into their minds and see all the sides of the situation. Neither twin has fully embraced their destiny, and their conflicts along with those of the world around them, propel the plot forward in unexpected ways. I appreciated the twists that I did not see coming and which blew me away towards the end.
There were also some really thought-provoking themes in the book about power, morality, destiny, religion, and sisterhood. Where would you draw the lines of acceptable actions if you felt that the end was right? How much power would you need to stop something you felt was wrong? The interplay of characters and the potent roles held by the twins was really fascinating. Many of the decisions they must make are in the moral gray, and they each acknowledge this but also try to decide who they want to be. As their personalities and desires solidify into the characters they have become, the book crescendos, and the pieces will fall where they must.
Betrayals, lessons learned, and intense themes add to the compelling writing and characters throughout. The roles of side characters, some of whose roles have yet to be fully revealed (second book now, please!), added to the world and stories therein to make this a captivating read. The romances that build in the book were secondary to some of the other plots, but I really enjoyed them, particularly the f/f romance that has enemies-to-lovers vibes.
Final verdict: Atmospheric, compelling, and with intriguing themes, THESE FEATHERED FLAMES is a captivating YA fantasy. With unexpected betrayals, strong character development, and intense world building, this book is absolutely riveting and highly devourable. Highly recommend for fans of THE MERCIFUL CROW, RED QUEEN, and THE WINTER DUKE.
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